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The Only Choice

This week has been a long, hard week.

Like many of you, I spent Tuesday night pensively watching the election results flow in. Like many of you, I spent Tuesday night feeling worse and worse as more and more of the US map was painted red. Like many of you, I woke up Wednesday morning concerned and afraid about what the future would bring.

Like many of you, I am still concerned and afraid about what the future will bring.

At first I found myself in shock. I’m not surprised that Trump won, but I was holding out the possibility that he wouldn’t (hint: there is still hope that he won’t, however faint it might be.) And so when the news came in that he was officially our elect, the shock set in that this was really going to be something I had to live through. Something that we all have to live through. I won’t try and tell you that things will be okay, because they won’t be for many of us. Many of the people in our country have a hard road ahead, and I know that some of those people won’t make it.

Some people do believe that this sort of response is overreacting, but I’m going to assure you that it isn’t. This isn’t a petty case of “oh no, we didn’t win and now I’m upset.” This is bigger than that. This is a case of someone who built their entire campaign upon hurting others and spewing fascist rhetoric left and right now having the loudest voice in the country (with a VP pick that is almost worse, if you can believe it.) This is a case of someone whose follower base is going and committing hate crime after hate crime after hate crime after hate crime. All within the first 72 hours after the announcement was made.

fffffffff

For many people in our country, this is just a small taste of what we can expect to come in the future.

As my shock gave way to wanting to take action, I realized that I should probably be saying something, even if it wasn’t much. I know that sometimes people will look to others for comfort or direction, and all things considered, it probably would make sense to at least attempt to offer one or the other. I feel that trying to comfort people at this point would be disingenuous. As I mentioned above, there will be people in our country, and possibly even our community, that don’t make it through the next four years. To tell people that “we’ve made it through worse” is a lie, and I won’t disrespect you with such things.

Since I can’t really offer comfort, I’ll opt for direction instead.

In the final hours of the election, posts began to roll in about what we should be doing if Trump actually wins. What would the NTRW do? What is the correct action in regards to ma’at? What does Kemeticism say about moments like this?

If I had to sum it up succinctly, I’d say that it’s this: Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. And look after one another.

We all know that the gods fight isfet every single day. Every night, they climb onto the barque to drive back a/pep so that Creation can be renewed and start the next day over again. The gods continue to fight even when they are tired, even when they want to give up. They never stop, and they never back down. If we are to emulate their actions, then that means that we, too, should not give up or stop.

building a new boat(source)

 

divinek(source)

nasadii(source)

There was once a time when I was feeling particularly beat down. I asked Osiris where he found the urge to continue to push back isfet day after day. He returned my question with a question. He asked me “what choice do we have?” To him, the only choice forward was to fight. To give in and to give up was to die or stop existing. He knew that it was hard, but that he had no other options that were worth considering. I believe that this is the same for us. We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep fighting, and we have to take care of one another. It is a core tenet of ma’at to take care of those who are oppressed. Those who are without. Those who need assistance.

As we move forward into this uncertain territory, I ask that each of us do what we can to assist those who need help. Particularly those who belong to marginalized groups.

In the spirit of helping with this, I’ve gathered a bunch of links and other resources to try and help us to push forward. If you happen to have good resources to add to this list, please let me know.

How to be an ally, things you can do to help moving forward:

Charities that have pledged to fight the loss of rights, healthcare, etc. and/or need donations to continue to do so:

Resources for people who are at risk:

Protest Organization and Attendance Resources:

Other posts about this topic from other Pagans/Polytheists:

 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Rambles, Kemeticism

 

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Lights in the Dark

Once upon a time I wrote about how accessing the astral is a bit like punching a hole through a membrane. In this metaphor, I had created a scene where the Unseen and all of its trappings are on one side of a very thick membrane, while we all live in the Seen on the other side of the membrane. And when we humans go to try and talk with any beings that exist in the Unseen, we are essentially playing a drawn out game of charades with this membrane in between us and those we’re hoping to speak to. In the case of astral travel, you’re essentially puncturing a hole into the membrane so that you can begin to access the Unseen more readily. Sometimes this hole is gigantic and easy to pass through, sometimes it’s more like turning the membrane into something that is permeable, but not removing it entirely.

All of these metaphors are still accurate, but they are all coming from the perspective of a human trying to get to the Unseen. That begs to ask–what about the gods who are trying to reach us through this membrane? What is it like for them?

While it’s entirely in the realm of UPG, it’s my belief that the gods are also living inside of a membrane just like we are. They live in whatever place that they happen to reside (for us Kemetics, that’s the Duat), and they go about their daily lives just as we do. They may be aware of the membrane that separates us from them, but they may or may not pay a lot of attention to whatever is going on on the other side. To draw a more physical parallel–I’m aware of Mexico being to the south of where I live. My state even shares a border with this country. But I have little to no in-depth understanding or knowledge of what is going on there–political or otherwise. Just because two planes, countries, or civilizations are close to one another doesn’t mean that they are actively paying attention to what is going on outside of their immediate sphere of influence.

There are times when I think the gods aren’t paying a lot of attention to us (whether that be humanity as a whole, a specific group of people such as religious practitioners, or earth in general). This is especially true after the religions and civilizations that pre-date us fell. I imagine that the gods paid a fair amount of attention to at least some of the goings on here on earth, but after their devotees dwindled down to nothing, they quit paying attention to us. It’s like watching a tv that is showing nothing but static–how long before you get bored and do something else?

That, of course, isn’t to say that all of the gods quit paying attention, but I think many of them started to pay less attention to what was going on with us. As such, we’ve got a lot of gods who don’t know a whole lot about the current state of affairs in our world. Much like astral travelers having a learning curve in regards to acclimating to whatever plane they’ve landed in, the gods are likely experiencing some level of learning curve with us.

Unlike us, the gods can’t punch a hole in the membrane and start walking around here on earth. They can do that in the less-physical layers of our existence, such as dream states or things like that. But to take on a physical form and start walking around like they’re one of us? Not likely to happen. So if the gods can’t break through the membrane in the same way that we can for them, how are they ever supposed to learn about how earth has changed in the past 839586 years?

I ended in up a conversation about this with O a couple of years ago. I didn’t really care about how the gods got their information at the time, but he was insistent on me listening to him and understanding the role that devotees can play in a god’s reality. The theory I’m about to posit to you is what he told me.

We all have a perceived reality of what kind of world we live in. We have a perceived reality of how others live, and all of the biases that can come along with both of these things. In many ways, a lot of us tend to have a small circle of people that we frequent and discuss things with. And this circle tends to form a basis of our reality.

When the circle of influence is small, the reality stays small with it. You don’t know what you don’t know. But if you push yourself to widen your circle of influence so that your horizons are broadened, you may find that your reality shifts with it. The more views and information you take in, the wider your understanding tends to become, and your perceived reality of the world and its workings will shift with it.

The gods can’t punch a hole in the membrane that separates them from us. But they can utilize us, the humans and devotees that live in this world, to widen their circle of influence and broaden their horizons. By interacting with humans across the globe, or from different backgrounds, they can begin to get a better understanding of how our world works, and what our world (and therefore it’s residents) needs in order to improve. In many ways, we can become a vessel for the gods, we can help them to better understand this world, and help widen their perceived reality.

In the imagery O showed me (because there is always imagery), our world was nothing but a big vat of darkness. You don’t know what you don’t know, and when you don’t know much, it can seem very dark. But then these tiny little lights started to pop up in this darkness. Each light was a devotee that had dedicated time, space, or something else to the god in question. The more devotees the god had, the lighter the world got, and as such, the more their understanding of the world deepened.

I recently talked about how we can create stability for the gods so that they can better exist within our plane. I feel as though this takes that stability even further, because our perceived reality of this world influences the reality that the gods have of our world. They learn about this place through us both directly (such as through conversations with us, through listening through our ears, etc.) and indirectly (by being given stable places to manifest, it’s possible that non-physical entities can manifest in a house and soak up information that is nearby, or listen in on conversations, etc.), and as such, I began to wonder what sorts of messages I was sending to my gods when I talked to them. Was I telling them important stuff that would help their understanding? Was I bringing up important information about the state of not just my life, but the world around me? Was I doing enough to explain to them more complex or nuanced situations that are occurring so that they can have a better grasp of what is going on around me?

If you found out that your reality directly influences the gods’ reality, and that your conversations with them help to round out their understanding of our world, what would you change? Would you talk about different things? Would you include more peripheral information to widen their understanding? Would you include topics that you didn’t consider originally?

What do you think about the concept of a god’s reality being influenced by our reality? Do you like the idea of the gods utilizing devotees to learn about our world, or do you find the concept to be too much pressure? Do you feel that there are other ways that non-physical beings learn about our world?

 

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The Importance of Stability

I feel that all of my astral travel has really given me an appreciation for some of the difficulties that gods and spirits probably face when trying to interface with our world:

  • “I’ve finally managed to get to the other side, and now I can’t get anyone there to pay attention to me. How do I talk to people?”
  • “I figured out how these beings communicate, but I can’t get any of them to listen to me. What am I supposed to do?”
  • “Why am I in this house, this is not where I intended on showing up.”
  • “Oh where did all of the doors in this house go? Why did all of the furniture move?”
  • “What the hell is that? And will it hurt me if I touch it?”

I feel like all of these statements could easily be uttered by a god trying to get some human to listen to them, and they are all statements that have fallen out of my mouth at least a few times while trying to travel. I’m sure that interfacing with foreign planes is probably not as challenging for some non-physical beings, as they have more power and practice than I do, but there will always be challenges when you’re trying to interact with beings on a foreign plane.

As I’ve worked to get better at my astral travel (and with communicating with my menz and gods over here), I’ve found that there seems to be something that helps everyone get on a little bit better, and that is stability. I mentioned in my post about working with unknown beings that stability can be useful for establishing a solid connection with non-physical beings. However, I didn’t go too terribly in-depth on what I meant by stability, or how to incorporate it into your practice. Today, I’d like to talk about two kinds of stability–stability that we can create for non-physical beings here, and how we can incorporate stability in astral travel to better our success rates while traveling.

Stability While Traveling

I feel that it’s better to start with stability as it applies to astral travel, because I think that it helps to round out the picture about how stability here can benefit beings that don’t really live here. You see, when you’re traveling in the astral, you’re effectively doing what the gods do with us: you’re taking a non-physical portion of your body or Self, and taking that portion to places that you don’t (typically) fully live in. While it’s true that I have a form that lives with my astral household 24/7, the human portion of myself doesn’t really live there 24/7. That portion comes and goes as I split my focus between here and There. And while the gods may indirectly always reside in our physical layer of earth, on the by and large, they aren’t living here fully, either (which is why Open statues are helpful, which I’ll cover in another post).

While I don’t pretend that my experiences are the same sort of experiences that all travelers have, I wouldn’t be surprised if my experiences aren’t entirely unique, either. And with that being said, my experiences have shown me that the process of getting from here to There can be convoluted. Sometimes it’s really simple, and I look inside, and I am instantly there and ready to move around. But most days, there is a sort of acclimation process that occurs as I move from here to There. For those who have never traveled, imagine waking up in the dead of night after having taken some medication. Someone flicks the light on, and your eyes haven’t fully adjusted to everything. You can’t really see well, you’re not very steady on your feet. You’re not sure where anything else because your brain is still fuzzy.

There are days when “waking up” Over There feels similarly.

And when you wake up in the middle of the night and need to move quickly, part of the reason you’re able to move quickly at all is probably because you know where you’re at. You know that you’re in your bedroom, and you subconsciously have an idea where the furniture is, and where to move or not move, etc. Your pre-existing knowledge of your house gives you the stability to know where to go, even when your brain isn’t running on all cylinders.

Now imagine that in an astral setting. You finally are able to connect in, but you’re not sure where you are or who is around. Your hearing is doing pretty poorly, so even when your bestie reaches out to talk to you, you don’t necessarily hear it or register it. The house shifted while you were gone, and you’re not sure where any of the furniture is, or where you’re supposed to go. You may not even be certain which room you fell into when you woke up.

You have no stability to know where to go or what to do.

Stability is key in these examples for being able to hit the ground running. In my household, we know that I have certain things that need to be done in order to visit regularly, and all of these things lead to more stability for me as a traveler. For those who might be interested in incorporating some of these ideas into their astral households, here are some of the things we keep in mind:

  • Keep some of your housing the same. The rooms that I get put into always have beds and doorways in similar or the same locations. That way, I always know which way to head to reach a door. Similarly, keeping the furniture to a minimum can be helpful.
  • Keep walls and/or space to a minimum. Whenever I’m having issues with connecting, we will remove walls, or shrink the size of the room that I’m in. That way, I don’t have to try and process as much information when I come into the room. Just like with video games, I can usually only process so much of a given space at once, and if the space is smaller, it’s much easier to move around because I can process the entire space in one go.
  • Keep a schedule, and utilize a partner. One of the best ways that I’ve found to make porting into the astral easier is to keep to a schedule. If I tell my menz that I’m going to be arriving at XYZ time in XYZ location, they know to keep an eye out for me and can assist in helping me to acclimate to the location that I’m shifting into. This also helps because you’ll know exactly where you’re going, and you won’t have to utilize as much energy or time trying to figure out your surroundings.
  • Get physical. I’ve found that when I’m having a particularly hard time hearing, seeing, or just being in an astral space, that touching someone’s face, or holding something and focusing on the physical sensations that I get can help to ground me into my body well enough that I can start to move better.

Stability for the Unseen

As you might have noticed, most of these things involve giving the person who is traveling some predictability in where they are going or what they will be doing. And when we are trying to facilitate stability for our non-physical compatriots, you’re essentially trying to do the same for them. Obviously, some of the situations listed above don’t necessarily happen all that often. We don’t have to worry about walls appearing or disappearing here. We don’t have to worry about rooms being reorganized, and most of us aren’t moving every few weeks like some nomadic astral people might. However, there are still things that we can do to help make our experiences more stable and predictable for the entities we’re reaching out to.

  • Create a space that is just for them. This is usually going to be your shrine area, but it doesn’t have to be a shrine per se. Having an item or a space within your home that is specifically for the entities you’re hoping to interact with will help to give them a solid place to settle in whenever they come over. This allows entities to saturate items with their energy, or place markers and other identifiers into their space that will allow them to transition into our plane much smoother. Using items that they readily identify with will help make it easier for them to ground into the space, and settle into their “body” or a vessel/item that can contain a portion of their energy.
  • Keep a schedule. Just like with my family preparing things for when I arrive, it can make it easier for the entity you’re trying to communicate with to manifest if you’ve got a regular schedule. When some sort of schedule is kept, it makes it easier for them to time their efforts for trying to communicate with us, and it makes it easier for us to hear them because we’re both working towards the same goal at the same time. I often feel that devotees end up playing this never-ending game of phone tag with the gods, and figuring out a schedule for everyone to work around can help combat that.
  • Start off sessions or rituals with similar dynamics. These dynamics can be any number of things. It can be playing the same song before your ritual. It can be saying the same words at the beginning of each ritual. It can be wearing the same thing for each ritual. Or sitting in a certain way. Anything that can be repeated regularly can help create a trigger that can help both you and any spirits you’re working with transition into a different mindset before communing begins. In the same way that a bell primed Pavlov’s dogs to be fed, starting off your sessions or rites with the same thing can prime your brain (and your gods or spirits) for astral work.
  • Provide energy. Traveling across planes takes up energy, so if you can give some sustenance to your spirits or gods to utilize during travel, it can help them to become more prominent within the space. Energy can be in the form of food, but it can also be the energy you raise in ritual or energy you give of yourself, etc.

When all of these things are met on the regular, you essentially create a predictable schedule that the entity can plan for, which will occur in a predictable space that the entity can settle into when they arrive. By having familiar items and sounds around, the entity should be able to grasp onto these things and settle into the space with less issues. And the easier that it becomes for the entity to settle into our physical world, the more likely they are to do it more often. And further, I believe that it helps the gods to better understand us the more often that they come here.

While this is certainly not a definitive list, I feel that these are the staples for creating more stability for non-physical entities to alight within a space, and if you end up trying any of them, I’d be interested to hear how they work for you.

 

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Side Effects of Astral Bleed-Through

I don’t know if my experiences are considered “normal”, but I’ve found over the years that it’s really only a matter of time before your astral life starts to bleed over into your day-to-day life. In many ways, I expected it, as you’re essentially immersing yourself into a separate culture, and creating something of a second life that you live. Though I suppose how much this second life effects you will largely depend upon how much time you spend traveling, and how different the world that you fall into Over There is from over here.

For me, the process of bleed-through hasn’t been exactly linear, but it’s definitely occurred. At first it was relatively small things, and they were things that I either expected (such as problems coping with traumatic experiences, or the inevitable learning curve that comes with astral work) or purposefully worked to pull into my life (such as changing my clothing or buying new items that remind me of my family, etc.)

But then it started to get worse, this bleed-through. I started having issues with not saying “oh where I come from, we do this” because I knew that if I did, someone would want to know where exactly it was that I came from, and I wouldn’t have an answer for them. And then I found that my accent from Over There started to show up more and more over here, which I constantly have to battle now. And then it became things like saying words that belong to a language that I don’t even have a name for. As I caught the words in my throat, I anticipated having others ask me “oh what language is that”, and the resulting embarrassment of going “I have no clue :)”. The more bleed-through I began to experience, the less control I had over it.

And then I noticed a lot of my fundamentals began to change.

The more work I did in the astral, the more people I met, the more my ingrained views were challenged and scrutinized. The more experiences I had, the more I was forced to question how things are done here, and whether those methods are truly for the best. I found that we readily accept a lot of things as truths, as being “the only way” of doing something, but when you get far far away from home, you find that there are actually many ways to do things. And sometimes the way you know best isn’t necessarily the best way.

I found that my ideas about ethics for things began to shift and morph as I learned about other places. I found that my distaste for certain things went down in some ways, but went up in others. I found that I became more and more frustrated about the limitations of this planet that we live on. I found that my new methods of approaching things might not make other humans thrilled or happy.

I found that through the act of traveling, parts of myself had begun to change. The me from Over There was really beginning to bleed into the me that is over here, and I was left figuring out how to reconcile the two. Or more accurately, I was left figuring out how to reconcile living in this world with the new knowledge I had gained from traveling.

This opened up an interesting dichotomy for me. On one hand, it’s readily accepted and acknowledged that entities that live Over There might operate differently than humans. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen people mention that gods might behave differently than us because their ethical structures are different than ours. I’ve seen the same said about fae as well. It’s more or less accepted knowledge that entities that don’t live here don’t always behave in ways that we expect or would prefer. And the sentiments that usually accompany this thinking is that we shouldn’t try and change their methodologies just because they’re foreign to us.

But on the other hand, what about the people who consistently work with these beings? How long can we expect practitioners to rub elbows with entities who aren’t from here before they start to act more like the beings that they’re rubbing elbows with? What of the bleed-through that spirit workers will (likely) inevitably experience? How should spirit workers and/or astral travelers be expected to handle such bleed-through? What about situations where a spirit worker’s actions grate against their own morals and ethics (because sometimes you are not in control of yourself when you are traveling), how do they cope with the gap between the two? What are our collective expectations for such situations?

This is especially important because there is a lot of double-bind logic going on within the pagan community. Based off of what I’ve read, a lot of people would tell you that you shouldn’t go into someone else’s culture and try to change it. In that respect, we should respect that the gods do things differently than we do and that we shouldn’t push our human methods onto non-humans. Makes sense and seems respectful, right?

But then on the other hand, if a spirit worker has picked up traits from Over There that belong to that culture, but clash with our more human mentalities–what then? If you’re not supposed to change the astral culture you live in, you’ll be forced to more or less assimilate into the culture in order to get along, fit in, and get work done. But you’re also not allowed to bring it over here because it’s foreign or weird or is considered immoral by humans–what do you do? Currently, the answer seems to be that you shift your mindset from here to There and back again as you travel, but is that causing harm to the spirit worker’s health? Are there better methods to doing this? We won’t ever know unless we can openly discuss such things.

Speaking purely for myself, I have kept most of my bleed-through entirely to myself. I don’t talk about it publicly very much, and I’ve found that I’m able to keep a lot of the shifts and changes I’ve experienced to myself. I’ve learned to split my brain apart even more, to remind myself that “when you’re here, you do X, and when you’re there, you do Y” so as to not make anyone uncomfortable or weirded out. But just like with anything that lives in a closet or compartment, there are always days when it’s harder to keep such things hidden. There are days when I’d like to openly discuss some of the weirdness I’ve picked up along the way, with the hope that maybe I can network with others and learn from them about how they cope with maintaining separate mentalities for here vs. There.

Bleed-through was completely expected, but the way in which it’s manifested has taken me by surprise (at least a little bit). I’d certainly love to hear if other spirit workers have experienced bleed-through or shifts in their life because of what they’ve picked up while traveling or working with spirits. And if you do experience such things, how you cope with them or handle them.

 

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Devo’s Burninatin’ Celebration: 2016 Edition

If I could sum up this year’s Wep Ronpet in a succinct phrase, it would be “the year Devo went it alone.”

When it comes to Wep Ronpet, I usually have direction or a process to inform you guys about. As I mentioned last year, Wep Ronpet is becoming less about Epagomenal days, and more about ‘burn things for Set’. Usually, he shows up in late June, and we go over at least a semblance of a plan for how I’m supposed to perform the year’s execration. He gives me an initial layout of the process I’ll follow so that I know what to write in my invitation to participate, and we discuss any general goals or things I need to accomplish before the day of the rite.

This year didn’t really happen that way.

I got the default notification in mid-June about how I needed to start planning for this year’s rites. It felt very automated, like Set programmed it into his phone, and his phone shot out the reminder at it’s pre-determined time. Because of that, I couldn’t really ask him what he wanted me to do, or what I needed to do. What made this worse is that astrally, I was in a lockdown mode and couldn’t leave to go ask him (more on that in the coming weeks.) And I didn’t seem to be able to get ahold of him from this end either.

The closest thing I could get from him was confirmation (of the barest sort) that I could perform the community heka that secondgenerationimmigrant had suggested, but beyond that I was on my own.

Usually I relish in figuring out what we’re going to be doing for Wep Ronpet. I love learning about how the various concepts that I work on throughout the year with the gods will double in on itself and form new concepts and ideas for me to mull on. With each passing year, the Mysteries and Wep Ronpet execrations further my understanding of my gods and my practice. It’s during these key moments that a lot of what I’ve picked up along the way starts to make sense and become more tangibly applicable to various things.

So I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to come up with anything neat or cool, but at the same time, the only thing Set said to me during this years’ rites (“you’ve been working too hard”) really sums up everything that the past two years have entailed.

Most people don’t really know this, I think, but I’ve been this side of fallow since Wep Ronpet of 2014. It was during 2014’s rites that Set talked about initiation for the first time, and shortly after that, I was barred from entering the Duat, cut off from a lot of my astral life, and by the time the end of 2014 hit, my job had consumed most of my life. If you’ve been with TTR for a while, you’ve probably noticed the stark drop off in posts and writing. That is largely why.

This is further complicated by last year’s surgery, which ate up most of my memories from 2015. For example, I have a hard time remembering what I did for 2015. I vaguely remember it, but I keep confusing it with 2014’s rites. Why? Because anesthesia eats your short-term memory. I don’t really remember 2015. I remember working and being stressed and being depressed. But on the by and large, I’ve lost an entire year of my life in terms of memory.

I’m just barely coming out of this rut. Barely. Just. Not even fully out of it yet. Barely.

And as such, this year’s rites took a hit, I think, because of that. I’m currently working two jobs while trying to get my sanity back together, and I didn’t really have the time or energy to think super duper hard about what I was going to do for this year’s rites (sorry, Set). I knew I wanted needed to do them, but I wasn’t going to exert a lot of energy figuring out how.

WR_shrine

The Pot of Unrest from last year came back again this year as a holding pot for everyone’s petitions. It sat in front of the Shrine and was guarded by Set’s knife. I placed petitions into it regularly as they flowed into my inbox, and made sure to leave offerings as a means to cajole Set to come back around and check out what had been added (I don’t think it worked.)

I kept the writing structure the same as last year, where I wrote what was going to be destroyed, and then often followed it up with a positive result of having said things destroyed. But in addition to that, I decided to try adding sigils to everyone’s petitions. That way, I could send the sigil to the person as a sort of proof that their petition had been processed and added to the pot. But even more than that, it would provide a link btwn the petitioner and their petition, so that they could take an active role in the process if they wanted.

It was an attempt to help make the ritual more personalized to those who are far away. A means to invite them into the process, to play a role in their own fates and futures (since execrations can help with both) because they could use the sigil as a means to funnel energy into the petition to be destroyed, or they could perform their own execration on something marked with the same sigil, which would be an additional oomph to what I was doing. I liked the idea in concept, but in practice it was challenging. Having to have my phone charged and with me when I was processing requests was difficult. The additional steps of having to take the photo, transfer it to the computer and then email it right away so that I didn’t accidentally send the wrong sigil to the wrong person was time consuming in a way that I wasn’t fully considering when I came up with the idea. I think that maybe if I wasn’t so strapped for time, it wouldn’t have been such a problem. But given the specifics of my current situation, it might have been a poor choice for this year.

What I did learn from the process is that I can make sigils very easily, and that my astral culture (if you will) has had a heavy influence on how I draw sigils now. I also learned that there needs to be better resources for those who aren’t sure how to write execration petitions (now on my to-do list), and that wow our community has gotten so much larger than it used to be. There was more hum about Wep Ronpet this year than I’ve ever seen before. That’s awesome.

pre-rite_shrine_WR

I usually set my shrine up pretty early before Wep Ronpet actually shows up. But this year, I hadn’t even fully set the ritual space up the morning of the rites. In fact, the day before the rites, I was still hemming and hawing about what I was going to offer, what I should do for the shrine setup, and what I should do for the rites themselves. I literally had not planned or prepped anything before the ritual itself (outside of the sigil on the petition thing, that’s the only pre-planning I did. Oh yeah, and fire. I knew there would be fire.)

The night before the ritual I was able to talk with Set for a very short amount of time. We went over what had been going on with the community and I gave him a status update of what needed to be addressed, what we needed to be prepping for and planning for, as well as other trends I had been noticing while out and about. I wanted to talk with him about what I needed to be doing, or what I should be planning for in terms of finishing some projects that I have put off for some time now, but he brushed me off and told me that we’d talk about it later.

Later still hasn’t happened, by the way.

The day of the rite, I slowly pulled everything together and hoped that I had gotten everything that I needed. As I sat down with my copy of Eternal Egypt, I still wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to be doing, but I trusted in my ability to pull it out of my ass like a pro.

The ritual this year was of a very different structure than normal. I noted last year that the rites felt more “big picture” than the year prior, and I feel like I expanded upon that even more so this year. I utilized the full Set rite that was in Eternal Egypt, more or less, and then placed all of the execration petitions into the execration pot while performing additional verbal heka. I then sat down and read the words that were written in the community heka, framing it as everyone’s requests to a council of NTRW, asking that they consider our words, and helping aid us in our requests. I then finished tearing up and burning the execration petitions and closed the ritual in the typical fashion as is laid out in most of the rites in Eternal Egypt.

WR_closeup2

I had brought my music thinking that I’d want to use it to help with the execrations, but it wasn’t needed. This year’s ritual would count as fully formal, in my opinion, as it was very by the books and very solemn (and emotional, apparently.) While I couldn’t see or hear Set (except for the one phrase), I could feel him around. I felt like more than Set was watching, but I couldn’t tell who. In the end, I may end up making a fully formal rite the new norm as I move forward, but we’ll see how things progress in time for next year.

I found that as I read through the formal words that I had an even better understanding of them than when I first read them so many years ago. I’ve always liked the words of formal rites, they’ve always resonated with me, but I don’t think I had a solid understanding of the depth of what I was reading in the past. I feel like I’m starting to get a better understanding and appreciation of the multiple layers that exist within a formal rite and its wording.

By the time the rites were done, I was completely exhausted in a way that is not normal for me. I’m not sure what exactly I had done that caused me to feel so absolutely drained, but it was all I could do not to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling for the rest of the day. While the rites were not typical for me, I think that they were fulfilling, albeit in a way that is hard to describe. Even though it was the year I went it alone (and rushed and unprepared), I feel like it was successful, though I’d prefer to have more energy and time to prepare for rites in the future.

execration_pot

I found that even though I had more or less gone it alone, that a lot of the motifs from last year still held true for this year. Notions about how letting things go isn’t easy, and how we need to be open to the changes required in order to make our requests truly manifest. And it is my hope that everyone that sent in a petition is presented with opportunities to have their petitions fulfilled, and in ways that exceed their expectations. May we all be open to the changes that we need, so that we may succeed in the coming year.

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Posted by on August 8, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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The Evolution of Mental Illness

I was recently participating in a discussion on Facebook about the negative voices that live in our heads, and heka that can be done to keep them at bay. In the post that was sparking the discussion, the author suggests that giving the negative voices in our heads a name and a form can help us to sit down and discuss things with them. It allows us to interact with parts of ourselves so that we can learn more about who we are, and more importantly, what causes some of these voices to speak up as they do. The long-term goal, as far as I could tell, was that by conversing with these voices, you’d hear less from them in time.

This got me thinking about the voices that pop up in my own head. Of course, I’m not talking about the voice of the gods or spirits that I work with. I’m talking about the voices that often tell me that I suck, or that remind me that I’m not doing as much as I’d like (often stated as “not doing as much as I should“). I’m talking about negative voices that often come with mental illness.

The more I began to mull over what those voices that embody my mental illness try to tell me is the “proper” reality that I live in, the more it really hit home that conversing with my internal voices probably wouldn’t do much for me. Why? Because I’ve found over the years that my mental illness evolves. You see, when I was younger, those voices would still tell me that I suck, but they’d use different reasons to showcase why it is that I suck. For example, when I was younger, I was a lot more isolated from other people, and I was frequently wracked with loneliness. So my voices would remind me about how no one really liked me, and how I could very easily just disappear and no one would notice, and I believed what my mental illness told me because I had nothing to prove them wrong. But now that I’ve worked through some of that baggage? It’s no longer used against me. If my voices want to bring me down, they know that that angle won’t work anymore, and so they choose a different soft point to poke at (such as “this particular person doesn’t like you and never will because you suck” etc.)

This is probably even remotely possible for me to detect on my end because of the shadow work that I’ve done over the past several years. I feel as though my trudging through life with all of my issues was a relatively plateaued affair until I began to actively hack at it in my late twenties via shadow work. Or in other words, my mental illness could hit me in the same spots over and over again when I was younger because I wasn’t making leaps and bounds worth of changes in the mental illness arena. The same issues and concerns I had in late high school were relatively similar to the issues and concerns I had in my early twenties. It only really shifted once I began the shadow work process.

But this highlights for me one of the ultimate caveats to shadow work that doesn’t seem to be spoken about enough–sometimes all the shadow work in the world won’t actually fix everything. I know I talked about this briefly in my post about shadow work being an ongoing process, but it really hit me hard when I realized that as I was beginning to learn how to outwit and overcome my mental illness, my mental illness was evolving to learn how to outwit me.

A side effect of this is that the voices have changed their ‘sales pitch’ to fit whatever topic is the most damaging at any given point in time. Once upon a time, my anxiety and depression could get away with telling me just about anything, and I’d believe it. But now they both have to work a little harder by formatting their statements a certain way in order for me to listen.

This probably sounds like an improvement, and in some ways it is. Due to the work I’ve put in, I can now shrug off certain statements that my brain will fling at me, and certain topics are relatively harmless to my mental health (in comparison to before). But don’t get me wrong–just because these mental illnesses seem to have to work a little harder to figure out what to tell me to get me to sink doesn’t mean that it’s still not effective. Nearly two years of being in mental illness hell is proof that these illnesses are very much in full swing and are effective at crippling me when they want to.

Another way to possibly illustrate it is to compare it to holes in a boat. If I have a boat that has a large hole in the bottom, there is no getting away from the fact that that sucks. Boats with holes don’t float very well. But let’s say that I learn how to somewhat patch this hole up, and now I have two smaller holes instead of one large one–some might consider that an improvement, but my boat still has holes in it. And that’s how I feel when I look at how my mental illness has shifted over the years. In some ways it’s an improvement, but I still have to live with mental illness. And that mental illness is still damned effective at doing what it does despite all of my best efforts.

The biggest point I really wanted to emphasize here is that shadow work will only do so much. Not many of us emphasize it enough, but there is no getting away from that fact: shadow work, therapy, all of these things that we use to try and heal ourselves from our trauma–they only go so far for some things. All of the shadow work in the world won’t erase mental illness, nor will it fix everything. You can definitely wage war against mental illness and push it back a bit, but just like isfet, it is always there lurking at the corners of ones mind. Just like with the gods working to maintain ma’at, the work we put in to stay as healthy as possible with mental illness is a non-stop, never-ending process.

And similarly, if you find that you’ve been working for years trying to get headway with your mental illness, but find that you’re still only treading water, please know this: you’re not alone. Fighting against mental illness is hard and it’s a non-stop battle, and you’re not less for not being able to squash your mental illness down entirely. While so much of the world seems to want to imply that you can somehow teach your mental illness a thing, and make it so that it no longer effects you, that’s simply not true (and honestly smacks against the fact that it’s an illness). And if my experiences are any indication at all, as you improve at waging war against your illness, your illness could get more adept at waging war against you.

Because I haven’t said it enough, remember that shadow work is a tool in your toolbox, and the same way that a hammer doesn’t work that great for putting screws into something, sometimes shadow work isn’t the right tool for the job. Sometimes you’ll do your shadow work exactly as you’re supposed to, and you’ll still come out not completely healed. This isn’t necessarily your fault, but is the nature of living in imperfect bodies that are often riddled with illness. You’re not bad for not being able to fix an incurable illness. You’re not bad for not being able to “magic” such things away. And don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Have you found that shadow work only goes so far with mental illness? How do you combat this? Have you found that your illness has evolved or changed it’s “angle of attack” over the years?

 

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The Internet Lacks Object Permanence

Over the years of interacting with people over the Internet, I’ve noticed that many people online seem to lack some amount of object permanence when it comes to other Internet users. Now, this isn’t object permanence in the strictest sense, obviously. I’m fairly certain that most of us have the ability to “understand that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way)”. But just because we get it on a superficial level doesn’t mean that it’s actually being absorbed and utilized on a deeper level.

Object permanence: what it is, and how I’m relating it to religion

For those of you who have never heard of the concept of object permanence, it’s basically the concept that you understand that things exist, even if you can’t see or experience  them directly. It’s something that most people develop when they’re still a toddler (there are some exceptions to this, as some disorders involve having difficulty with object permanence), and so most of you reading this probably do understand that when I place a cup in the cabinet and close the door, the cup still exists inside of the cabinet, even if you can’t see it. Your inability to experience this cup directly doesn’t make it suddenly vanish from existence.

You’d think that a group of people who spends a lot of time talking about entities that none of us can touch or see in the physical sense would have a really firm grasp of object permanence. In many ways, our entire religious experience is a drawn-out exercise in object permanence. We can’t necessarily experience our gods directly (as in: we can’t touch them, see them, or talk with them the way that we would a human), and so nearly everything that we do requires utilizing object permanence in order to be effective or successful in what we’re doing as practitioners.

However, it seems that many of us have a blind spot in our object permanence: other practices and how they are presented on the Internet by co-religionists. I think that objectively we understand that many of us aren’t talking about the entirety of our practices online, but it seems that many of us forget that on the regular. It seems that for a large portion of Internet users, if you’re not actively talking about it or posting about it, it doesn’t exist.

To use my cup and cabinet metaphor above, if I decide to keep part of my practice (the cup) in the cabinet because I don’t wish to share it with you (aka: I don’t post about it online), then a lot of people assume that the parts of my practice that are in the cabinet (the parts of my practice that I don’t openly discuss) don’t exist.

Or in other words, because I haven’t dredged up every aspect of my practice and put it on display for you, I’m obviously not doing those things ever, and those “missing” parts of my practice don’t exist.

Building roadblocks out of assumptions

This habit can be very damaging on multiple levels. First of all, it can create a very hostile environment where practitioners may use their assumptions (aka: assuming the cup stops existing because it’s in the cabinet) to berate or chastise other practitioners. This seems to manifest in a lot of ways, but the most common that I’ve seen is that people assume that because everyone only posts funny, lighthearted or “fluffy” stuff online, that none of them is actually serious in their religion or practice. This then bleeds into the belief that others aren’t historically driven enough, serious enough, or legitimate enough because they’re not seeing the “proper markers” to assume that someone isn’t making a joke of this very serious business known as religion.

These assumptions can then create a toxic environment where co-religionists have to worry about appearing “legitimate” enough to their peers in order to be taken seriously or given respect. Some members may feel pressured to over emphasize the “real” parts of their practice so that their peers will give them the time of day. Conversely, others may feel that they need to hide the “less legitimate” portions of their practice, or even stop talking or participating all together because of the pressure to meet this unstated standard of perfection that these assumptions have created for the community.

And as can be seen and witnessed in multiple communities right now, this dichotomy of “good enough” and “not good enough” creates a very large divide within a religion. It creates a divide between those who are deemed as legitimate and those who are not. You are either serious and follow a set protocol, or you are a pleeb who is “ruining our religion” and “disrespecting the gods” because we’re making assumptions about what your practice consists of based off of what you say online. The fact that you may go away from your computer where you’ve just posted 10 sparkly NTR gifs for funsies and are about to do a 3 hour long ritual means nothing if you’re not posting it online.

Destroying roadblocks by destroying our assumptions

To be honest, every time I see an instance of someone forgetting that people don’t display every aspect of themselves or their religious practice online, I get very sad. To me, it seems like such a waste to spend all of our time comparing practices and telling others that they’re doing it wrong because they don’t meet our own personal criteria for what makes a practice “correct.” It’s one thing if a community member is being problematic or hurting others with their practices, but honestly, if no one is being hurt by what they’re doing, why do we make such a big deal out of it? Why are so many of us more interested in judging how others practice or worship than tending to our own business?

I think the only way to actively work against the lack of object permanence that exists in our online communities is to actively work against our own assumptions that we make. Each of us makes assumptions about what others are doing or not doing, about how legitimate their experiences are or aren’t, and about how serious they may or may not be about their religious practice. We all do it, it’s part of human nature.

What’s important is to actively work against those assumptions, though. Even if you start to assume that someone has something wrong, maybe take a step back and ask yourself if it really matters. Does it really matter that someone sees a god with pink hair? Does it really matter that they’re offering to the gods in plastic solo cups? Does it really matter that people are joking about a god’s butt?

It’s a lot like the yardstick of dickery: is what is being said or done actually hurting anyone, or is it just bugging me? Is there any actual benefit from me saying something?

If the answer to both of these is no, then there isn’t really any need to get upset over it. And it’s important to remember that what we’re seeing online is not the totality of anyone’s practice. Just because someone might appear to be practicing one way online doesn’t mean that that is all that their practice consists of.

And as I’ve said a million times before, if the behaviour is truly damaging to the gods, we should learn to trust that the gods will handle it in their own time using their own methods.

Learning to work together with something as personal and important as religion can be challenging, but the sooner we learn to ease up on our assumptions, the better off things will get. Learning to remember that no one shows every aspect of their practice online is important, as is remembering that different deity-devotee relationships can take different forms. The more that we can work to find common ground between different methods of practice within Kemeticism, the better off our entire community will be.

Do you have issues with assuming too much about others’ practices based off of what they showcase online? Have you ever assumed something about a practitioner’s practice, only to have that assumption proved wrong later on? How do you stop yourself from assuming too much about your co-religionists?

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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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